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Methylation studies in Peromyscus: aging, altitude adaptation, and monogamy

By Steve Horvath, Amin Haghani, Joseph Alan Zoller, Asieh Naderi, Elham Soltanmohammadi, Elena Farmaki, Vimala Kaza, Ioulia Chatzistamou, Hippokratis Kiaris

Posted 16 Mar 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.15.435544

DNA methylation-based biomarkers of aging have been developed for humans and many other mammals and could be used to assess how stress factors impact aging. Deer mice (Peromyscus) are long living rodents that have emerged as an informative model to study aging, adaptation at extreme environments, and monogamous behavior. In the present study we have undertaken an exhaustive, genome-wide analysis of DNA methylation in Peromyscus, spanning different species, stocks, sexes, tissues and age cohorts. We describe DNA methylation-based estimators of age for different species of deer mice based on novel DNA methylation data generated on highly conserved mammalian CpGs measured with a custom array. The multi-tissue epigenetic clock for deer mice was trained on 3 tissue sources (tail, liver, brain). Two dual species human-peromyscus clocks accurately measure age and relative age defined as the ratio of chronological age to maximum age. These analyses also allowed us to accurately manifest the increasing impact of age, sex, genetic relatedness, and ultimately tissue identity, in that order, in the acquisition of specific methylation patterns in the genome. Genes that were differentially methylated across different biological variables were determined and their potential impact is discussed. This study describes highly accurate DNA methylation-based estimators of age in deer mice and illustrates how differential methylation may be linked to adaptation at different conditions.

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